Premas Biotech, the Gurgaon-based Biotech company which developed the triple antigen virus-like particle (VLP) vaccine candidate for SARS CoV-2 virus, said it had progressed into animal trials.

“The four-week placebo-controlled, blinded and randomised tests to be conducted in mice, will seek to evaluate safety in the rodent model and examine immune response by dose titration,” the company said in a press release.

Premas Biotech said it planned to administer the test across different dose amounts, including human doses.

The data and findings of this study are expected in about six weeks, the company said.

The company said it had successfully completed the manufacturing process for the VLP (virus like particle) vaccine candidate, which included three surface antigens from SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the disease.

Premas adopted a different approach. Instead of using a vaccine based on the whole virus, its vaccine will be using the protein subunits of the virus or simply parts of the virus .

In Premas cases its vaccine contains protein subunits of viruses like Spike (S), Envelope (E), and Membrane (M). The protein sub-units or antigens will trigger immune response like the conventional vaccine. US biotech Novavax is developing a similar antigen based vaccine that uses Spike protein. The vaccine candidate is in human trials.

At the moment, Premas is the only one from India to adopt a triple-antigen approach that is designed to produce an enhanced immune response.

“We are excited that we have been able to manufacture and characterise the VLP containing three main proteins from SARS-CoV-2 virus,” said Prabuddha Kundu, Co-Founder and Managing Director, Premas Biotech.

“We are now moving ahead for animal trials using mice to analyse the safety and immunogenicity of the candidate. We believe it will be the first case of a triple-antigen VLP administered to an animal for SARS CoV-2,” Kundu said.

Premas Biotech, which is working on the development of the COVID-19 vaccine through the proof of concept approach in collaboration with its US partner Akers Biosciences, has already established a manufacturing protocol and initiated large-scale production studies for the vaccine candidate.

There were around 30 COVID-19 vaccine projects in various stages of development, including of those of companies such as Serum Institute of India, Bharat Biotech, Zydus Cadila, Biological E, Indian Immunologicals, Hester Biosciences, among others. Bharat Biotech and Zydus Cadila vaccines were approved for conducting human trials so far.

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